Even running without the frills, CellFactor
only managed to sputter out an average of 18 frames a second, far off the usual minimum of 30 FPS. The game looked fairly ugly too, the levels all using boring brown textures and no detectable anti-aliasing. Not only that, but the game got jerkier when we tried out some of the vehicles and destroyed objects respawned every few seconds, making the game feel too cluttered and uncomfortable to enjoyably navigate.
The HUD too suffered from being cluttered and, like the main menu, had been designed by somebody with the most clichéd possible idea of what the word futuristic means.
Still, it's really a little foolish of us to judge the game by its graphics. It is after all a tech demo, no matter how it's wrapped up and marketed. It exists so that people like us can say it is amazing and tell people like you to buy a physics card. So, how do the physics hold up?
Well, they look good to put it simply. The most impressive use of the PhysX card is for the cloth simulation, which tears realistically but has a few problems. Mainly it was the frame rate letting it down so that it crumpled rather jerkily. At times it also seemed to behave more like wet paper than cloth, ripping under its own weight and allowing boxes to punch through with a minimum of force.
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Other physics objects handle well though, falling and breaking convincingly though appearing to bounce about a bit too much. Picking up massive chunks of rubble and lobbing them around is fun, but when they bounce so much then the fun kind of dissipates and the world starts to feel as if it's made out of foam rubber.
When it comes down to it though, the one burning question we think people want to know isn't "Is the game any good?" Instead the question that needs answering is is "Does the game demonstrate enough reasons to shell out for a PhysX card
To answer this we have to think a bit more long term than just CellFactor
which, frankly, played awfully and didn't look great save for the sheer amount of bounceable foam-like boxes. The major reason why someone would want to give out over a hundred pounds
for the PhysX accelerator is, of course, Unreal 3
which promises extra features and improved performance on a PhysX-enabled system.
That said, most people right now don't have a PhysX card and a lot of people are resisting the change, which may negatively affect the supply of games using the PhysX physics engine. We don't need degrees in Business Studies to see that with so little demand there may be even less supply.
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On its own CellFactor
isn't a very exciting game at all. It looks okay in the screenshots but in reality it is system heavy and is confusing and awkward to play, with a low frame rate and poor handling.
Even the physics aren't exactly jaw dropping for the most part. Picking up boxes and chucking them around? Garry's Mod
does that already and there are plenty of software based physics simulation sets out there that can do even better than CellFactor
on the small scale. What is impressive about CellFactor
though is the scale that these physics are used on, which is something we've rarely seen before.
isn't up to par on its own and gamers won't really be missing out on anything if they can't play it. It shows a few things that may help to persuade some potential customers, but not enough to win over the masses. There is a promise that the PhysX card can do better, but a promise isn't enough to sell us on the idea as it is and CellFactor
will only really be of use to those with super powered PCs and even then there are better games to spend time on.